Religion notes. Francis on atheists, Christian Right formed over taxes, rightist Frenchman bloodies the altar
Posted by Charles II on May 22, 2013
The most interesting story is by Sarah Posner in the Guardian:
For anyone who knows the history of the religious right, the possible revocation of tax-exempt status for claimed religious belief is a potent flashpoint. In his book, Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament, religion historian Randall Balmer argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, which Balmar calls the “abortion myth”, evangelical voters were not propelled to political activism by the supreme court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.
Instead, the issue that mobilized these voters was the IRS’s 1975 revocation of the tax-exempt status of the segregationist Bob Jones University. Rightwing religious architect Paul Weyrich told Balmer that it was “the federal government’s moves against Christian schools” that actually “enraged the Christian community”.
Give us our goodies or we’ll take over the government. [More at Daily Kos]
This is relevant because the right’s latest hissy fit comes from our…eh…friend…Cong. Aaron Schock, who is claiming the IRS targeted antabortion groups over their prayers. Posner notes:
Questioning anti-abortion groups – even the content of their prayers – could very likely have been aimed at determining whether these groups engaged in activities outside abortion clinics that ran afoul of the law. Because of the history of abortion clinic violence by those claiming a religious imperative, the IRS could have been attempting to determine whether the groups’ activities were in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (Face), a 1994 law which prohibits the use of force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to injure, intimidate or interfere with someone’s access to or provision of reproductive health services.
The coolest story is this one, from Reuters:
Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis has said in his latest urging that people of all religions, and none, work together.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning mass at his residence, a daily event at which he speaks without prepared comments.
He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.
I’m glad to hear this from a Pope. After all, who is doing what Jesus wants? A person who denies God but feeds the poor, or someone who spends all their time in church and never does a good deed?
Speaking of people who spend their time in church but don’t do good deeds, I have to wonder what God is thinking about this fellow (from Kim Wilsher, The Guardian):
Dominique Venner, 78, a far-right essayist and historian took his life in front of the altar at Notre Dame on Tuesday after writing a blog condemning France’s recently passed law allowing same-sex marriage and adoption.
The cathedral was evacuated after Venner walked into the building with tourists at about 4pm, placed a letter on the altar, then shot himself through the mouth. Hundreds of visitors were evacuated.
Afterwards, Le Pen, head of the far-right Front National, tweeted her “respect” for Venner and said his death was an “eminently political” gesture.
Before killing himself Venner sent a letter to friends saying he was in good health in body and in mind, was filled with love for his wife and children, and loved life.
He had written: “I expect nothing more from life except the continuation of my race and my spirit. However, at this, in the evening of that life and in the face of immense dangers for my French and European heritage, I feel the need to act, while I still have the force. I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that oppresses us. I offer what remains of my life in an act of protest.”
Venner said he chose Notre-Dame as a “symbolic place … which recalls our immortal origins”; the reason for his suicide would be evident from his recent writings.
The historian had described France’s same-sex marriage bill, known as the “marriage for all” law, as vile. It passed into the statute books on Saturday after months of furious and often ferocious debate, protest and violence.
Venner was a former member of the Secret Army Organisation, which opposed Algerian independence in the early 1960s and waged a terror campaign against Charles de Gaulle’s government.
I can imagine an awkward conversation, beginning with “Dominique, what was it about ‘Thou shalt not kill” that was so hard to understand?”
Added: An important primer on Opus Dei in Latin America I wanted to link, which describes the interference of Opus Dei, presumably in the form of Cardinal Maradiaga, in preventing emergency contraception.
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